Hundreds of volunteers will complete up to 40 projects as part of the United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania during the agency’s second Week of Caring, including many here in Westmoreland County.

The week kicks off today with volunteers working outside at the Clelian Heights School for Exceptional Children, mulching six areas around the Greensburg campus and continues with projects all next week until Sept. 18.

A regional event, the Week of Caring also includes projects in the neighboring counties of Allegheny, Butler, Fayette, and Armstrong.

According to Alyssa Cholodofsky, Westmoreland Region Director with the United Way, the event — in its second year of existence — actually began many years back as a “Day of Caring,” a one-day event that often limited the amount of volunteers that could participate and projects that could be completed.

The weeklong event expands not only the opportunities, but the amount of vulnerable neighbors they can serve.

“It’s a huge undertaking,“ said Cholodofsky. “But it’s a lot of fun for our volunteers and our team.”

As part of the event, the United Way partners with many local companies, such as West Penn Power, Kennametal and Menasha, who provide volunteers, as well as local agencies, like Clelian Heights, Action for Animals, municipalities, parks and trails and others.

This year, Cholodofsky said the agency is partnering with Stoneybrook Foundation Therapeutic Riding Center for a weekend project, which offers an opportunity for families and other groups to volunteer that normally wouldn’t be able to when the project was held on one single day.

Because we as a society are still dealing with COVID-19, Cholodofsky said there are projects designed to give volunteers a variety of safe and innovative activities, including some in-person and some virtual ones for those who aren’t comfortable coming out.

At in-person activities, all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines will be observed.

According to Cholodofsky, resources are stretched thin and the partner agencies rely mightily on the work volunteers provide during the week, and volunteers get just as much out of helping out. So, it’s a win-win situation.

Volunteers will complete various activities, including painting, landscaping, mentoring, working with seniors and more throughout the entire region.

“Mobilizing caring volunteers is a crucial way to provide support to our agency partners and allow them to focus on daily operations,” said Bobbi Watt Geer, United Way President and CEO. “The projects completed during Week of Caring will create an impact that lasts long after the event has ended. We are so appreciative of the volunteers raising their hands to make a difference and helping the most vulnerable neighbors across our region.”

Volunteers are always welcome. Anyone interested in volunteering should register online at https://give.unitedwayswpa.org/Volunteer/VolEventInfo.jsp?nbr=328. For questions about volunteering, contact Wendy Koch at wendy.koch@unitedwayswpa.org.

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